Date: Sat, 3 Feb 1996 08:56:21 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: ESL/forks to the right/pudding & pie?


I will not be able to respond to all counterexamples, but pudding and pie

is part of a longer poem, and demands of rhythm and the like might easily

break the heavier items to the right rule. On the other hand, I have never

heard this freeze propnounced fully; I have always heard it /pUdn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]npay/,

never /pUdIng[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]npay/. It is altogether possible that /pUdn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n/ is mentally

construed as the bisyllabic first element.

(I am using

U = vowel in look


ng = velar nasal

I = vowel in bit)

I think the exceptions only prove but do not destroy the rule.

WOW! Dennis' explaination would sure useful in teaching ESL!

But what about pudding and pie? Pie and pudding sounds funny.

Tom Uharriet

In case you missed it, Dennis' explaination follows:

I don't think this is a mundane question at all. Haj Ross once outlined a

principle of 'myopia' which states that in what he called 'freezes'

'heavier' items go to the right.

For example, if sex prevailed, why is it

men and women


ladies and gentlemen

Easy, Haj says, count the syllables. 'Women' is heavier than 'men,' but

'gentlemen' is heavier than 'ladies.'

When words have equal numbers of syllables, count phonemes:

back and forth (3 and 4)

When they have equal numbers of phonemes, go for long and short, voiced

versus voiceless, even dip into degree of obstruency

thick and thin (voiced final segment, therefore longer)


So, how about knife and fork (which sounds right to me).

Well, by phoneme count for me it's 3 (knife) to four (fork), but for the

British (or those varieties with r-deletion) the 'fork' drops to 3 (with

admitted compensatory lengthening, but, the 'knife' already has a diphthong

which apparently wins out over the compenstorily lengthened vowel of 'fork'

if that is the order which prevails there.

Neat huh?

Of course, I don't know the distribution.

I have a question which is, admittedly,

a bit mundane for the likes of the

great intellectuals on this list,

but, darn it, there's a bet ridin' on it!

Has any work been done on a regional distribution

of usages of "fork and knife" vs. "knife and fork"?

A few colleagues of mine claim that they use

"knife and fork" and the other variety seems strange.

Another colleague uses "fork and knife" and says,

to him, the other usage sounds, in his word, "British."

Any insights, observations, or anecdotes are welcome,

and you may forward them to me personally, if you like.

I'll post a summary if the information warrants it.

Thanks in advance!


;Kathleen M. O'Neill ... Language Laboratory Technician I ;



;University of Illinois at Chicago ... Language Laboratory ;

;703 South Morgan Street (M/C 042) ... Grant Hall, Room 311 ;

;Chicago, IL 60607-7025 ;

;312.996.8838 or 8836 ... 312.996.5501 FAX ;



Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


Office: (517)432-1235

Fax: (517)432-2736